Men & Knitting

StrikkedukkerI have moved my blog to a self-hosted site: Breieninoost.nl. My posts on facebook I will also move from my personal account to the  Breien in Oost facebook page. Please like this page if you want to keep reading my updates!

So far 6 people showed an interest in my course and one of them is a man. Not a bad ratio! He wrote to me he had wanted to knit for a long time already, but back in the days his grandma could have taught him, it was considered weird for a man to knit. Nowadays of course we have Carlos & Arno with their X-mas balls and Strikkedukker, but I have known men who knit all my life!

1. My father. He spun and he machine-knitted, skills developed during the 2nd World War. I remember the – this is impossible to translate – borstrok, that I was wearing in my youth. This ‘chest protector’ was a woolen undershirt, worn as a second under-layer over a cotton undershirt. In winter obviously. I also have a clear memory of a woolen skirt that I loved to wear, up until highschool, by which time it had turned into a mini-skirt.

2. One boyfriend and one suitor. We are talking the eighties. Men, well.. some of them, were engaging in talking groups for feminist men and similarly, some engaged in the soft art of knitting. The first man knit me a sweater and the second a pair of socks, that apparently didn’t do the job. Of seducing that is. They were grey, what can I say…  I have worn them for years though, they did an excellent job warming my feet.

3. My son. Like so many children he was eager to learn knitting when he was little and although he never finished any project he has not forgotten the skill. He even seems to be purling!

If you search, you will find many men who are knitting. They may have a different take on it, like Aaron who is blogging about ganseys (visserstruien). He has adopted an academic and a handyman approach to it. He made his own needles! The video is about using a knitting sheath (A Better Way to Knit! ). He writes passionately about how to knit The Best Socks.

link to pattern voyageur cap

Finally, in appreciation of all the men that liked my blog and/or facebookpage, an example of  a nice men’s hat. The pattern is copy-righted, but the men attending my course can use my copy.

 

Knit & Run

Now that I am pretending to be a knitting expert I feel the need to reflect a little on my actual achievements in this area. While gathering proof of how well-versed I am in needle language , a couple of unfinished projects tumbled out of the closet. Here they are, together with the excuses for why they were never finished.

 Baby Sweater in Screaming Colours

The first picture shows the front part of a baby sweater for my now 20-year-old son which I started knitting in 1990-something. By the time I got ready for the back part he had already outgrown the front part. So I decided to turn it into a sleeve instead and started a larger front part. Then the same thing happened again, he outgrew it.. Front and back are finished, but one sleeve is lacking and I ran out of yarn. Can’t get the same cotton anymore and won’t get babies anymore either, so I think I will become an unraveler for this one.

Rainbow baby sweater

Cabled Tweed Pullover

Similar story, but some seven years later. Did not finish this on time and then all of a sudden my son was taller than me. I took it up again now, because I still like it. I just need to find a new beneficiary. The yarn got attacked by moths in the meantime but after vacuuming it, most of it is still intact. It is a very cheap yarn from Zeeman that I bought at the incredibly low price of 2.99 guilders (€ 1.35) for 100 grs. It is 25 % wool, 7 % viscose and the rest synthetic fibre, which was helpful for surviving the moths. In the 90-s there were hardly any yarn shops left in Amsterdam and all those great hand-dyed, fully natural yarns had not even made it into existence, so the Zeeman deal wasn’t so bad at the time.

Cabled pullover

Black Seed Stitch & Cables

This sweater actually got completed, it is even a little worn. I bought the cotton yarn while travelling in Guatemala and in need of something warmer than the clothes I brought (and reluctant to wear the indigenous garments and look like a hippy). The black never really was black enough. I thought I would were it again if I added a skirt to it as I had plenty of yarn left. Look at the size of that skirt, what was I thinking? The skirt has to go. Maybe I’ll use the yarn for a summer camisole.

Black Cotton Sweater

Loose Ended Roses

This one is finished, that is, the knitting is finished. The reason why I still don’t get to wear this can be seen in the picture on the right: I still need to weave in hundreds of loose ends. And the yarn is so black, the light in my house so dim. What if I took it with me on my holiday to a sunny country? It will become such a sweaty job! The yarn is unfortunately totally synthetic, for the reasons mentioned above, but also because I couldn’t afford expensive yarns a few decades ago.

Loose Ended Roses

 

How to knit

The book I referred to earlier – Useful handicraft – arrived in the mail and so did the scanner. Now I am able to show some of the stuff I have been taught as a little girl. The 10th edition copy I got is from 1965 and the year I learned knitting must have been 1968. The book only addresses girls, and the teacher was obviously female as well. While we were doing needlework, the boys were taught how to play chess!

There was no such thing as You Tube in those days, so this is how the teacher was supposed to teach us:

Casting on

We will start now with learning how to cast on. The teacher has two thick wooden needles and very thick wool. Each girl has a ball of cotton plus two needles.  For the time being we don’t need needles, as the children first need to properly master how to wrap the thread around their fingers. The teacher first demonstrates a few times and then lets the girls go along as follows:

Opzetten - Casting on

De Nuttige Handwerken, Wolters, Groningen, 1965

  1. Measure a length of yarn and hold this point between thumb and index finger of the right hand.
  2. Put he index finger of the left hand under the thread, which is on the side of the ball of yarn, put middle finger and ring finger on top and the pink under again.
  3. The thread that we are still holding in our right hand, should be wrapped around our thumb and then we place it between ring finger and pink, over the pink. We keep our hand slightly bent, the loops on thumb and index finger over the first phalanx, thumb and index finger almost together.

Naaldenboekje - Needle booklet

Are you still there? No wonder so many of the girls developed a dislike of knitting. The projects we embarked on weren’t all that exciting either. In my memory my first product was an egg warmer – a little hat to keep you egg warm :-).

The book’s first project is this must-have needle booklet:

And here below the notorious doll’s dress. I asked my teacher if I was allowed to adjust the measurements as this one wouldn’t fit any of my dolls: not the Barbie nor the baby doll. But she wouldn’t hear of it. So it got buried in my little suitcase with useless projects.

nuttige handwerken-poppenjurkje

The YouTube way

For an easier way to learn knitting -besides following a course or workshop – here are a few really easy-to-follow instruction videos by Twirre, owner of  crafts store Handmade Heaven in Amsterdam-East.  It is all in Dutch but the images are self-explanatory.

And here are the links to  the next three classes.  Besides binding off these are all the basic techniques you need, everything else is just  different combinations of these four.

Another way of casting on, even knitting, and purling.

Day 3 – Lost in Nostalgia

Today I got distracted when searching for the type of cotton yarn they gave to us in school back when I was first learning. I was wondering if there are still stores that sell yarn that is not very cool, 100 % natural, utterly beautiful but extremely expensive?

Yes, there are. I found a beautiful small shop, family owned since 1891 – 122 years. They have a webshop, where they are selling Durable cotton in every imaginable colour at € 2.60 for 50 grams only !

Het Kleine Winkeltje in Millingen.

het kleine winkeltje in millingen

They are selling underwear as well, solid, white, cotton underwear and old-fashioned pyjamas!

The pathway to perfection

This picture is from the book: “Vivilore: The Pathway to Mental and Physical Perfection” – 1904

The caption was: “Busy and Happy.”